Here’s Why Debate Classes for Kids are Crucial to Future Success
Published on 03.11.2021
Learn why debate classes for kids are a crucial part of a successful future.
I think most parents would say their children are great arguers. However, there is a clear difference between arguing and debating. Kids often haven’t practiced the skills to actively listen to opposing perspectives, and come up with a thoughtful response on the spot. This is why debate classes for kids are so important in children’s development and accomplishments.
Debating is defined by Oxford Dictionary as “a formal discussion of an issue at a public meeting or in a parliament. In a debate two or more speakers express opposite views and then there is often a vote on the issue.” This definition implies critical thinking, discussion, and thoughtful listening.
Research and Critical Thinking
To succeed in a debate, participants need adequate reasoning behind their arguments. To fully explain their position, sufficient research must be conducted. Research is a crucial skill and goes hand-in-hand with critical thinking.
Learning how to efficiently research and hone critical thinking skills is necessary for a successful college career and beyond. If children can begin strengthening these skills through debate classes, they will be well on their way to success.
Organized Thoughts and Forming an Opinion
While it’s common for children to have strong opinions, it can be difficult for them to express one coherently or even explain why they have that opinion. Debate classes give children the resources to form adequate reasoning behind their opinions and learn how to vocalize them in a coherent manner.
Debate is also a great way for kids to be introduced to new topics and ideas such as climate change or police involvement. By organizing their thoughts at a young age, their opinions will be able to develop and change based on sound logic and critical thinking, giving them a leg-up throughout their lives.
Listening to Other Perspectives
Practicing debate will not only encourage kids to think critically and speak thoughtfully, but this will also help them see multiple sides to an argument. In order to succeed, debaters need to fully understand the rebuttal just as well as their argument. By practicing this, kids will be encouraged to use this skill in their day-to-day life and better understand other perspectives and mindsets.
Furthermore, in order to have a solid response, debaters need to be excellent listeners. Carefully listening and understanding the other side are skills that will help children thrive in competition as well as in their daily lives.
Finally, the confidence children gain when practicing and competing in debate is incomparable. As children research new topics and form their opinions, they are able to find their voice and have that voice validated that it matters. Furthermore, when the hard work required for a successful debate pays off, confidence in their ability soars.
Not only does their perception of their abilities increase, but their overall school performance elevates as well. A recent study from the University of Bedfordshire found that children who learn debate skills can increase their SAT results by 6%-19% in all subjects. This is a major advantage when competing against countless other students.
At Home Exercises
The coaches at Winning Feathers are thrilled at the prospect of coaching your child to be not just the best debater, but the best thinking, reasoner, and listener possible. Pairing courses like the ones offered at Winning Feathers with these at-home exercises will have your child soaring towards success.
- Hat Debates
Write down a few debate topics and put them in a hat. Make sure the topics are age appropriate for the children. For example, with children 5-8, a good topic could be, “What is the best ice cream flavor?” Whereas children 9-12 could discuss, “Is it better to save your allowance or spend it?” Furthermore, children 13 and older could discuss topics like, “Should the voting age be lowered?” or “Solar vs. Wind powered energy.”
By drawing the topics out of a hat (or whatever you have available), there is little to no time to prepare. This encourages them to think on their feet.
- Debate the Rebuttal
Have them pick their favorite topic, such as, “Hotdogs vs Cheese Burgers.” Then have them debate their opposing view. For example, if they love hotdogs, they will have to advocate why cheese burgers are the better option. This encourages them to understand different viewpoints and perspectives while still giving them the opportunity to debate.
- I Couldn’t Disagree More….
This is a fun game to play one-on-one or in a group. Have someone start a discussion such as, “I think Aliens have definitely visited earth.” The next person then counters by saying, “I couldn’t disagree more because…” This creates a cycle of reasoning and critical thinking as you go back and forth, responding to each other’s claims.
By Alison Hartzler
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